What is AWS Well-Architected Review (WAR)?

Peter PanecMon, 02/03/2020 - 11:04

The AWS Well-Architected Review, often called the "AWS WAR", is a key factor in having a successful AWS Well-Architected Framework. The review helps Product Management, Developers, Operations staff, and anyone with a cost interest to evaluate the workload and implement improvements for future workloads.

AWS War

Putting the Well-Architected Framework into practice entails a few key steps. The first of those steps is conducting a Well-Architected Review (WAR). Well-Architected Reviews can be done on an existing architecture that is already implemented, but it can also precede a proposed architecture where the architecture design has been worked out together with a prototype. The latter scenario ensures everything essential in terms of architecture has been reviewed.

The term workload (mentioned in the graphic above), quite frequently used with regards to AWS, essentially means a set of resources that deliver a business value. Organizations can have multiple workloads. For instance, an e-commerce site could be a workload. There might be a separate loyalty program, which could be considered another workload. There could even be an inventory management process behind the initial e-commerce activity, which might also be considered yet another workload.

The optimum review focuses on a single workload in order to keep the review scoped. If there are more than ten systems to contend with, attempting to review all of them at once can be overwhelming.

In the best-case scenario, a business will pick the most important or critical system and review it first. Occasionally, findings can be applicable to other systems, or a review can be conducted on the each of the systems in turn, thus keeping each review sufficiently bounded.

When conducting a review, a Solution Architect is included as one of the participants. A Solution Architect understands AWS thoroughly, including the services, the Well-Architected Framework and what constitutes good architecture in AWS. There are also the business and the respective stakeholders. This constitutes those with a vested interest in that particular workload or with influence over that workload.

Specifically, this means Product Management, Developers, and Operations staff as well as anyone with a cost interest in it. During a review, a business may hear the question, “Well, why was it implemented this particular way?” A business needs to have people participating in the review who can answer this question. If the answer is “Well, we architected it that way for a technical reason, but may also be implemented for a product reason,” this indicates the need for key business staff to be included in the review.

A review is a structured conversation. A review conducts a walk-through of the well-architected framework, evaluating the workload to see where the business is strong, where it is weak, and what might be improved. A review is intended to be an objective discussion, without having any resulting blame. A review is never intended to be a way to beat business staff over the head. It is intended to be an objective way of identifying potential improvements that can be applied.

The Well-Architected Review:

  • Is a structured non-confrontational conversation
  • Will help you gain understanding of state of workload relative to Well-Architected Framework
  • Uses the Well-Architected Tool
  • Focuses on single workload
  • Addresses pillars in order of business priority

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